A lie-flat bed is extra handy when there's not much to do but sleep.
Fourteen years after AirAsia first introduced a bed in its Premium Flatbed cabin, this lying-flat-flying experience remains a good choice when on a low-cost carrier. Tonight's Kuala Lumpur to Sydney trip is the daily D7288 service on an Airbus A330-330, taking off at 10.25pm and flying through the night.
CHECKING IN: I walk straight up to the dedicated Premium Flatbed counter but the agent seems almost disappointed I only have 12kg of luggage when 40kg is allowed. Cabin baggage is limited to 7kg. As he hands me my boarding pass, he advises I head to the gate at once, as it could take half an hour. While getting through security takes minutes, he wasn't kidding about the long walk and, halfway through the terminal, there's a second, longer security check. This is when the status of my flight changes on the screens to "Boarding". I sprint to the gate, only to discover everyone seated as the flight is not yet boarding at all.
THE FLIGHT: Premium passengers board first and waiting on the seat is a handwritten "Welcome Aboard" note from the purser - a nice touch. We're delayed 30 minutes and in the sky just before 11pm. Despite my itinerary stating it's a nine-hour flight, the pilot announces it is 7.5 hours to Sydney. Due to a 20-minute holding pattern over Sydney, we eventually pull into the gate at 10.20am.
THE CLASS: I'm in the front row on the aisle in 1C, one of 12 seats in two rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. At 19 inches (48cm) wide with a 59 inch (150cm) pitch, the seat is spacious with great leg room and a thick cushion, and slides back into two metres of a "lie-flat" bed, which means it's on a sloping angle that takes a bit of adjusting to. Some of the bed's control-panel buttons work, others don't, but a crew member makes it go flat. A thick pillow and a generous duvet complete the sleeping space, with a personal reading light and a power point between the seats, but no USB port. The seat's width is good for both back and side sleepers, and I doze for half the flight, but when morning comes, the cabin is flooded with light as all the shades are up, while, strangely, the Economy cabin remains in darkness with the shades down. Premium also has a dedicated toilet.
When morning comes, the cabin is flooded with light as all the shades are up, while, strangely, the Economy cabin remains in darkness with the shades down.
FOOD AND DRINK: A bottle of water is waiting on the seat, and the flight attendant asks if I want the sole included meal after take-off or before landing. I opt for the dinner service of the tasty Pak Nasser's Plant-Based Nasi Lemak, complete with another bottle of water, served an hour into the flight. After waking, I'm peckish, so it's a cup of tea and slice of butter cake for $7.
ENTERTAINMENT: There's none, as the airline did away with portable screens years ago. Wi-Fi is normally available, but it's not working tonight, which possibly explains why it's such a quiet flight - everyone is sleeping as there's not much else to do.
THE SERVICE: The crew is friendly and affable, just not very attentive. It seems once they have done their jobs, they scurry back into the galley. The main flight attendant spends a lot of time apologising for what's not working in the cabin.
Read more on Explore:
IN A NUTSHELL: This AirAsia bed is a big step up from the premium chairs on rival low-cost carriers Jetstar and Scoot. The appeal - and price - of the Flatbed now sees the cabin booked out on 80 per cent of flights.
Flight: AirAsia, flight D7288, Kuala Lumpur to Sydney
Frequency and duration: Daily; 8 hours and 40 minutes (or close to it)
Class and price: Premium Flatbed, from $669 one way
Explore more: airasia.com
The writer was a guest of AirAsia.